From Blessing Ibunge, Port Harcourt
A coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) based in the Niger Delta region have demanded the prosecution of all persons indicted in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) scandal.
The coalition, ‘We the People and the Rivers State Civil Society Organisations’ made this call on Wednesday in Port Harcourt, while reacting on the ongoing investigation on misappropriation of funds in the commission, by a joint National Assembly Probe Committee.
Speaking on behalf of the coalition, Georgewill Enefaa, Chairman of RSCSO, expressed sadness over the level of corruption ongoing in the Commission as recorded during the probe section.
According to him, “We have long been aware of these happening and have severally called the attention of the federal government and the people of the region to the failures of the Commission.
“The government has consistently refused to take action. All efforts to bring about accountability and transparency in the NDDC have thus far lacked the support of successive government”.
Regretting the scale of corruption linked to the management of the Commission, the coalition stated that the huge allocations to the NDDC have rather bequeathed a legacy of abandonment, neglect and underdevelopment of the region.
“Despite the huge yearly allocations to the Commission in the last 29 years, poor management and corruption has made it impossible for the agency to exert any reasonable measure of positive impact on the region”.
Insisting that the illegal practice of creating interim management commission should be stopped, the group noted that corruption hit the level it was in the Commission as a result of political influence.
“It is important to note that the corruption in the NDDC thrives essentially because of political influence and patronage. Successive governments in Nigeria have treated the Commission as a conduit for settlement and compensation”.
However, the coalition demanded that to get it right for the purpose of establishment of the agency, all principal offices in the commission should be advertised and not the usual appointments through political patronage, calling for the dissolution of the current board of the commission and a new board appointed.
The coalition further demanded that “the National Assembly to set up a panel investigating all officers accused of wrong doings.
“The Acting MD Prof Biobarakumo Pondei and the former Acting MD Jou Nunieh of the NDDC should return to panel to answer all pending questions as the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, lacks the power to suspend an ongoing probe.
“That the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Sen Godswill Akpabio should publish the names and beneficiaries of all NDDC contracts since inception and prosecute all indicted in the NDDC scandal”.
They also demand that “the budget of the NDDC should be made public by publishing it on the NDDC website to enable members of the public have access and tract projects”.
The coalition threatened that if the demands are not met within one month, “CSOs in Rivers State and in the Niger Delta would be left with no other choice but to peacefully occupy the NDDC head office in Rivers State”.